Hemp Eyewear continues to showcase the diversity of hemp by designing a range of sunglasses based on iconic frame designs. Using an updated manufacturing process, they have turned individual hemp fiber into solid, lightweight and ‘one of a kind’ frames.In 2014, recent graduate designer, Sam Whitten started prototyping sunglasses in his parents garage.Sam realized how beneficial the material was and that there were many applications for which hemp could be used. After finding a gap in the market for hemp sunglasses, Hemp Eyewear was born.
After a successful crowdfunding campaign, the student project has grown into Hemp Eyewear, originators of the worlds first hemp sunglasses.
Today the sustainable brand have opened a design studio and workshop occupied by their small team of designers and makers.
Based in Edinburgh’s creative hub, The Biscuit Factory, every pair of hemp sunglasses goes through a unique handcrafted process using artisanal techniques combined with modern technology. The launch of new models, Dean & Byrd, are based on the classic Wayfarer & Aviator style sunglasses, which are the result of considerable development work on their process.
Every frame has visible plant fiber in the material with its own individual pattern, producing a one off and truly unique pair of sunglasses. As well as the renewable plant fiber material, Hemp Eyewear use their own 100 percent natural finish on the sunglasses, a fully sustainable alternative to plastic frames.
“Plastic pollution is an extremely worrying and shocking problem, especially in our oceans,” said Sam Whitten, founder of Hemp Eyewear. “It’s up to designers to use sustainable alternatives. Hemp is the most renewable resource available and comes out on top in terms of an eco, sustainable and multi-useful solution, that’s why it’s our material of choice.”
Hemp is more sustainable than plastic and surprisingly even more sustainable than wood, as it can be used in just three months — compared to a tree which will take more than 15 years before it can be harvested.With the ability to grow in almost any climate, on poor soil and without the use of pesticides, hemp is an eco-friendly alternative to crops such as cotton (responsible for half of the planet’s pesticide usage).
Industrial hemp has been used for thousands of years dating further back than the Egyptian pyramids. As well as the agricultural and environmental benefits, hemp can be used as a material for anything including; clothes, paper, construction, food, health care and now, sunglasses.
Hemp fabric has incredible insulating and breathable properties, which traps the heat in colder weather and lets the clothes breath in warmer weather. The plant fiber from the hemp crop is one of the strongest in the world, it is said that a hemp shirt will last you a lifetime and can last up to 7 times longer than alternatives such as cotton.
“The vision of Hemp Eyewear is to promote hemp as a renewable resource, not just for sunglasses, but in the fashion industry and beyond,” Whitten said.